On 9th January 2020, the President appointed a three-member Presidential Commission through an Extraordinary Gazette, empowering them to look into alleged acts of political revenge on government officials, employees of state corporations, members of the armed forces and the police, who held positions prior to the 2015 presidential election and the general election in August. The period to be considered by the Commission was January 8, 2015 to November 16, 2019. The Anti-Corruption Unit and the Financial Investigations Division (FCID) of the Sri Lanka Police established by the previous government were identified specifically as the parties to be investigated.
This Commission continued to examine and provide recommendations on matters, including corruption related cases that were still being heard before the judiciary.
Later, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa tabled a resolution in Parliament on the 9th of April 2021 seeking approval to implement the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry that were aimed at ending several court proceedings. The motion submitted to parliament also sought approval to refer the decisions and recommendations made by the PCoI to the relevant authorities, including the CIABOC, the Public Service Commission, the Inspector General of Police, the Minister-in-charge of the relevant ministries and the secretaries to the ministries, for implementation. This resolution has not been passed nor discussed since. However, this move could be a serious challenge to the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary.
What is the corruption?
- The recommendations of the Commission seek to set aside ongoing cases being heard before Court and thereby interfere with law enforcement and the judiciary.
- Threat to the separation of powers by appointing a Presidential Commission to look into the ongoing court matters.
- Implications of discontinuing existing cases related to misuse of authority, misuse of public funds and misuse of public property, all of which constitute instances of alleged corruption.
- Penalizing the investigation officers who carried out initial investigations, thereby creating a chilling impact on investigators.
What has been done?
- Several petitions were filed by the former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Members of Parliament Patali Champika Ranawaka, Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka requesting the Court of Appeal to quash the recommendations of this PCoI on Political Victimization.
What can be done?
- Continue to demand undisrupted and expeditious resolution of the pending cases pertaining to corruption allegations, to ensure accountability of perpetrators.
- Demand that the corruption cases withdrawn on technical grounds be refiled.
- Demand for the protection of the separation of powers between the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary and for the independence of the judiciary, CIABOC and the Attorney General’s Department.
- Demand for the protection of investigative officers.